Physical Abuse • Protection from Abuse

Boykai v. Young, PICS Case No. 14-0020 (Pa. Super. Jan. 7, 2014) Bender, P.J. (9 pages).

Where husband threatened cessation of financial support of non-consenting wife in exchange for sexual intercourse, such threats constituted “force” in the context of rape, or at the very least sexual assault, supporting a finding of abuse and the issuance of a protection from abuse (PFA) order. Affirmed.

Appellant Ted Young and appellee Geraldine Boykai, both immigrants from Liberia, met in the U.S. in November 2010 and were married the following November after Boykai became pregnant. Boykai filed for a PFA order in January 2013; after a temporary order was granted, Boykai alleged at a hearing in March that Young forced her on numerous occasions to have sex against her will after they were married. Young stopped providing financial support to Boykai and their child once Boykai began refusing to submit to Young’s requests for sex. The court issued a PFA order, from which Young appealed.

Young argued on appeal that the trial court erred in granting the PFA order because Boykai had failed to establish that she sustained “abuse” as defined in § 6102 of the PFA Act. Young further argued that he never physically forced Boykai to have sex, as her use of the term “force” was a result of her limited grasp of English and merely referred to Young’s purported refusal of financial support, and so the trial court could not find abuse without a finding physical force.

The instant court noted that the legislature had several decades ago changed the definition of the “forcible compulsion” element of rape to include intellectual, moral, emotional, or psychological force. The legislature also added to the list of acts constituting abuse the offense of “sexual assault,” which assigns culpability for intercourse that occurs without the victim’s consent, and without the need for a showing of force to establish that offense.

The court found that Young’s conditioning of financial support in exchange for sex from Boykai amounted to the intellectual or psychological force contemplated by the modern statutory definition of rape. The court also concluded that the record could establish that Young engaged in sexual intercourse without Boykai’s consent, which amounted to sexual assault and therefore abuse under the PFA Act. The trial court therefore could reasonably conclude that Young had engaged in marital rape or sexual assault that amounted to abuse under the PFA Act.